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Coronavirus grounds MIT; Tufts also orders restrictions but not nearly as severe

MIT announced today it's "suspending all international travel on MIT business or with MIT programs, for all faculty, students, postdocs and staff" - and is taking a series of other steps to limit any potential Covid-19 spread, including banning all campus meetings of more than 150 people and asking MIT students and staffers who travel out of state, even just to another part of the US on spring break, to log their destinations in a confidential MIT travel registry.

The school also asked professors and other staffers to cancel campus visits by local K-12 students and postpone any on-campus meetings with anybody over 60.

MIT added it will allow international travel with rare extenuating circumstances, which will have to be spelled out in messages to the school provost and chancellor.

The new steps, which will be in effect at least through May 15, come a day after Gov. Baker asked all the state's colleges and high schools to back out of international travel to reduce the odds of people coming back to the state with Covid-19.

Tufts today banned all school-related travel to countries with Covid-19 outbreaks, currently China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. Travel to Japan is still allowed, but requires school approval, according to the announcement, which covers Tufts's main campus as well as its medical, dental and veterinary schools.

Both MIT and Tutts noted that while they can't tell people what to do on their personal time, they are strongly recommending that anybody affiliated with the schools not go overseas for any reason, in part because should an outbreak happen where they are abroad, they might have trouble getting back into the US.

MIT noted that anybody who travels to a country with a Covid-19 outbreak, such as China, South Korea, Italy and Japan will have to self-quarantine for two weeks after their return.

Tufts added:

Students, faculty, and staff returning from US cities where there have been cases of COVID-19 should also be mindful and seek medical care if they have both a fever and cough.

H/t Chris D. and Brad F.

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has a concert scheduled at MIT's Kresge Auditorium (which holds a lot more than 150 people) this Sunday. Will it need to be moved elsewhere or cancelled?

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MIT EVENTS

Effective immediately, if you are planning any in-person MIT event with more than 150 attendees that will take place between now and Friday, May 15, on campus or off campus, you must postpone, cancel or “virtualize” it.

So looks like it will be cancelled.

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Darn! Just when they finally got to host the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four!

More seriously, about the concert - just check the university's events calendar (or whatever campus organization was hosting the concert) for an specific announcement about that event. It's possible that they might have the orchestra come anyway, perform in an empty venue, and stream it.

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This is an off-campus organization renting Kresge, so the event isn't listed in MIT's own calendar.

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A little odd in that the calendar wouldn't even show that that portion of campus facilities was being used for something. I suppose it shows up in the deeper schedule/request layers.
I'm sure there will be a lot of calendar and event updating in the next few days.
I looked at the Cambridge Symphony website - no change yet there.

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I'm thinking you don't have a lot of experience with events calendars at large universities.

Organizations have to take the affirmative step of posting stuff. And off-campus groups that rent space usually don't have permission to post.

Sometimes there are multiple calendars run by disconnected bureaucracies, and none of them show the events that students actually organize and attend.

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It says right there they need to expect more than 150 attendees.

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Source: MIT event planning website

CSO isn't going to fill it, but they certainly will get more than 150 people, especially since you need to include the orchestra itself in a head count.

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Isn't there a 200-seat venue in that complex, as well?

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which is used for small stage plays. But an orchestra concert is in the main hall.

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The CSO concert has been moved to 51 Walden Performing Arts Center in Concord. Still on Sunday at 4.

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The 200 people that show up are all friends and family.

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Yes. The concert is moving to 51 Walden in Concord, according to the orchestra's facebook page.

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from their page:

PLEASE NOTE: The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra will present this Sunday’s concert, Tales of Kings and Queens, at 51 Walden Performing Arts Center in Concord, MA.

The concert will no longer be held at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. This change of venue is due to a new MIT policy in light of the coronavirus outbreak regarding large events on campus. The CSO apologizes for the inconvenience and for the last-minute change.

(followed by info on asking for refunds if this doesn't work for ticket-holders)

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A very dumb, very orange, sundowning madman who goes on live TV and publicly states he has a "hunch" the death rate is down around 1% (yes, trump said this) versus the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.

I'll be over here washing my hands with the smart kids, thank you very much.

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After 70 years of being wrong about the Central Park five, climate change, Obamas birth place, etc he is due to finally be right about something!

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Please -- can't we cut the silly school-yard insults and stick to reality

While we still don't know well the denominator of the fraction giving us the "Death Rate" for those who are infected by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019). We can make a fairly good estimate of the upper bound.

In rural China early on their may have been some elderly people who died from the virus or from some underlying undiagnosed cause exacerbated by the virus -- so the total deaths in China might be somewhat higher than the official 3015. Say it was even double and there were 6,000 deaths in China. However, due to the fact that many people who have been tested in the west for the virus even if "Officially Infected" show no or very mild sub-clinical symptoms -- we can be almost certain that the Chinese "Officially Infected" number of 80565 is far below the true number.
So our upper bound of the Death Rate for China is 6,000/80565 == .074 == 7%.
The official Chinese Death rate is 3015/80565 = 3.7%
The lower bound could be something like 3015/120,000 == 2.5%

Outside of China the Public Health data is probably more reliable although again the denominator is probably underestimated due to the very low intensity cases which may never be reported or tested.

Total Deaths outside of China = 267
Total reported infections outside of China = 14768
Death rate outside of China == 267/14768 == 0.018 === 1.8%
Note the "Outside China" includes the data from the floating petri dish the (Diamond Princess) which had 706 infections and 6 deaths yielding an independent estimate of 0.8%

Other essentially independent estimates with a sufficient number of cases
Republic of Korea 5766 cases 35 deaths 0.6% death rate
Japan 317 cases 6 deaths 1.9% death rate
Italy 3089 cases 107 deaths 3.4% death rate
France 282 cases 4 deaths 1.4% death rate
Iran 2922 cases 92 deaths 3.1% death rate

Now we also know from the data from South Korea and Japan that the most likely victims of the virus are old men with poor immune status and /or other underlying chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, COPD, etc. Italy and Japan have two of the oldest populations on the planet and China while old also has a disproportionate number of old men who are smokers.

So you can kind of take your pick at the Death rate from a low of 0.6% in Korea or 0.8% on the Diamond Princess to a high of 3.1% Iran, 3.4% Italy or 3.7% China

For comparison:
SARS lasted from Nov 2002 to July 2003 and infected more than 8,000 people. Near the end on 7 May
– WHO estimates that the case fatality ratio of SARS ranges from 0% to 50% depending on the age group affected, with an overall estimate of case fatality of 14% to 15%.

pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 [2009-2010] a special "flu" with over 18,000 deaths

The CDC predicts that at least 12,000 Americans will die from the flu in any given year. As many as 61,000 people died in the 2017-2018 flu season, and 45 million were infected.Feb 7, 2020

Sources WHO and CDC websites

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Dana Farber has banned all work related travel and requested employees limit personal travel.

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My company has done so as well. I am sure there are many private companies doing the same.

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the gist;

"got the sniffles? for the love of god, stay home."

Please believe the smart people on this, folks.

This is not going away anytime soon.

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'Smart People'? Look back just 50 years in local, U.S., and world history and you'll see 'Smart People' made plenty of serious miscalculations. The 'smart' technocrats who advices NYFD to remove coverage from the South Bronx because of population shifts as the the Bronx burned, so-called Urban Renewal of the 60s-70s where large sections of Boston and other cities were deliberately destroyed, etc. The list is a long.

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supposed to attend one in town next week, cancelled yesterday.

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a much larger event: the New England Seafood Expo at the BCEC was cancelled a few days ago (as already reported here).

I think it's a safe bet many more will go by the wayside in the coming weeks.

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New England Seafood Expo... was cancelled

[Adam West voice] Bad news, old chum [/Adam West voice]

Of course, old chum would be bad news at any seafood event.

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Good. I mean, not good for the business and economy in the short run, but good for humanity in the grand scheme of things. The world has failed to contain this wildfire, let's not give it more fuel.

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Has suspended all University sponsored international travel - they did that earlier this week

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Thanks, Adam for the update. I work at a local university and it is helpful to know what other institutions are doing during this crisis.

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After the Princess cruise off San Francisco and the fact that corporations, etc are canceling conferences and travel, I have decided to cancel my cruise that starts next week. I am actually more worried about being quarantined for a long time (first on the ship, then on land after) vs actually getting sick. Just one person feeling ill or actually having the virus can cause a ship-wide quarantine.

What stinks is that the cruise will not reimburse or credit for a future cruise. They insist they are doing extra screening and extra cleaning and not allowing people on-board who have been in or transited China, South Korea, Italy, etc. But everyday you hear about community infections here in the US. And the testing is sorely lacking to get a handle on who has it and who doesn't. Either way - you go on ship and it happens, your vacation is ruined. I didn't get travel insurance when I made the deposit so I can't get Cancel for Any Reason. So I will lose my $5K (price for two). Not happy but it is what it is.

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The cruise industry is going to find themselves virtually shut down by external forces and will need some good PR to get customers back. Screwing the smart ones out of their money doesn't seem the way to go. I can understand maybe not refunding, but at least allowing passengers to delay travel would seem to make some sense...

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I would be totally fine if they would give me no refund with a credit toward a future cruise - after all this settles down.

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I am pleased to update as of today that RCCL and subsidiaries (Celebrity) have come to their senses and are now allowing to cancel for full credit for a future sailing that must be booked by Dec 31, 2021 (so you could even wait to sail in 2022). Just canceled. I feel so much better!!

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Or the marathon?

Will those be cancelled too?

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...to try and shut down the Boston Midnight Marathon Ride - including demanding that state agencies shut down public transit, and even trying to get MEMA to stop the ride (MEMA refused, saying the roads were open to the public, but they went on at length to clutch pearls about Safety)

...I fully expect BAA to be equally concerned about the safety of first responders and the public now, too, and cancel the Boston Marathon.

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Has anybody heard any rumblings on if this is having an impact on Restaurant Week business?

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shun Restaurant Week even in non-pandemic times.

I've spent a lot of nights recently in Chinatown, and it clearly is punishing businesses there, as has been widely reported.

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Sold-out Harvard-Yale basketball game on Saturday night. The Ivy league mens and womens basketball championships are next weekend.

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It's probably still on because you could drive to it. Harvard has just disallowed all domestic and international air travel for university purposes and strongly discouraged all domestic and international air travel for personal purposes.

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extreme caution and judgement for personal domestic travel.

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I wonder if it's still on. Harvard just came emailed everyone this afternoon.

https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus-update-travel-visitors-meetings-and-...

ON-CAMPUS MEETINGS AND EVENTS

  • We strongly discourage any non-essential meetings or events of 100 people or more.
  • Academic classes and dining operations will continue as normal with heightened cleaning protocols.
  • Organizers should postpone the gathering or use remote technology if possible. See Harvard’s on-campus meeting and event guidance.
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My (very small) company is a vendor for several Spring events at MIT. We just had $10K in contracts wiped off the board overnight. This will be felt at home, as my personal spending is going to need to tighten up big time to make up for it. So the restaurants down the street are going to end up feeling it too . .

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This really going to put a crimp in MIT's plans to provide science and engineering support to Vladimeer Putin and the Saudi royal family.

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